Day Eighty Six

Today's miles: 10
Total miles: 1829

Since we had covered so much ground yesterday, we only had ten miles left to get to our next destination: Crater Lake. Eager to be there, Katie and I got up at 6 and booked it. We made it to the lake by 10:30 and immediately went into the restaurant, where we finally caught up with Sneaks, Mudd, Dingo, and Coincidence. We ate at the salad buffet and then went to the store nearby to pick up our resupply boxes and repack our bags. In addition to my food box, my mom had sent me a care package, completely full to the brim with mini chocolates, plus a 3.5 pound bag of Skittles and my favorite dried mangos. I laughed as I dug through the chocolates, saying that it looked like she had raided a kid's Halloween candy stash. There was a note saying to share the chocolates with my friends, so as hikers arrived at Crater Lake I gave them handfuls of candy to enjoy.

Katie and I did laundry at the store, took showers, and sat at the benches outside with our friends, enjoying the feeling of being off our feet. For me, being at Crater Lake was strangely nostalgic. I had been here almost exactly a year ago with my mom and Tanner, eating at the same restaurant and visiting the same store. And here I was again, having walked here. It was a surreal moment and also a humbling one. It truly felt, for the first time, like I had walked home.

Sneaks, Mudd, Dingo and Coincidence hiked out that afternoon, since we learned you have to go at least twelve miles to camp outside Crater Lake. Katie and I stayed to wait for Sunshine and Treekiller, and they finally arrived around 3:00. We gave them hugs and Sunshine cried, "we've been chasing you girls all week!" Apparently they had pulled a couple late nights in a row trying to catch us and Treekiller pronounced them as being "level five headlamp walkers" now.

While the boys got their packages, repacked food, took showers and did laundry, we tried to decide if we wanted to hike out tonight or tomorrow. We didn't want to hike the 12 miles it would take to get out of the park, but we also didn't want to pay the $25 to camp at the Mazama Campground. While we tried to decide, a tourist by the name of MK came up to Treekiller and she offered to buy him a beer. She sat with us thru-hikers for a while, talking about our journey, and ultimately offered her campsite as a free place to stay for the night. It was an easy decision after that. Treekiller, Sunshine, Katie and I walked to her campsite and enjoyed a bottle of whiskey and told stories until 1:00 am about the trail.